Oregon 2012: From statewide to local, a recap of our rulings
By Janie Har
Published on Friday, November 2nd, 2012 at 3:21 p.m.
During the 2011 and 2012 legislative sessions, Oregon lawmakers managed to avoid the sort of partisan gridlock that has been crippling politics on the national stage. Even with an evenly split House, legislators passed hefty reforms in a number of areas, including education and health care.
But nothing lasts forever, and as soon as election season rolled around, out came the nasty mailers and the TV ads, and away went the warm and fuzzy feelings. PolitiFact Oregon has been watching closely, and we’ve noticed a few trends.
Education was a hot topic — candidates from both the left and right tried to present themselves as the more child-friendly option. We saw some claims from the 2010 cycle return this year, most notably a claim that certain Democrats had "raised your taxes by $1 billion in a single day."
Taxes came up a lot, often without full context. If a Democrat was so much as in a room when a tax was proposed, Republicans tied the candidate to it. In return, Democrats described Republicans as corporate lackeys who sometimes don’t pay their own taxes.
We need to mention the whoppers that merited ratings of "Pants on Fire" this season: Realtors behind Measure 79 spoke repeatedly of a fictitious property tax, while the No on 82 and 93 campaign falsely claimed a proposed casino in Wood Village would be the country’s largest.
Lest we leave you too hopeless about the state of politics, it wasn’t all deceit out there. Claims about Multnomah County Library – one about its hours and another about the ultimate cost of a new tax district – turned out to be True.
Here’s a quick summary of some of our ratings from this election season. The full reports are online at politifact.com/oregon.
Bill Bradbury on Knute Buehler: The former secretary of state claimed that if the Republican candidate "were elected, our vote-by-mail system would be at risk." We find Democrats have taken Buehler’s statements on the subject and conflated them to a doomsday prophecy worthy of our most terrible rating. Pants on Fire.
Kate Brown on Kate Brown: The Democratic secretary of state said she does three jobs "for less than the price of one of them" in the state of Washington. We find she’s comparing apples to oranges and peaches. Mostly False.
Democratic Party of Oregon on Bruce Starr: Democrats said the state senator running for labor commissioner "voted to throw 6,000 Oregonians off unemployment." The figure is right – but Starr voted against the unemployment extension bill, he said, because the bill allowed people to turn down work in some cases. Half True.
Senate Republicans on Laurie Monnes Anderson: Minority Republicans said the Democrat from Gresham "voted to let violent criminals out of jail early." The legislation offered some inmates convicted of violent crimes the opportunity to get out even earlier. Mostly True.
House Republicans on Ben Unger: Republicans claimed in mailers that the Democrat challenging Rep. Katie Eyre, R-Hillsboro, in House District 29, supported a 15 percent property tax increase on Oregon seniors. We find Unger, a campaign consultant, led a campaign to pass a Portland Public Schools bond and operating levy in 2011, which would have increased taxes for property owners. Half True.
Carl Hosticka on Julie Parrish: The Democrat from Tualatin said the West Linn Republican "voted to divert $160 million from public schools to private for-profit schools." We find that while private, for-profit corporations are behind online charter schools, they are public schools. Mostly False.
House Republicans on Carl Hosticka: Republicans said that the Democrat "proposed a ‘windfall’ tax on real estate development" while on the Metro Council. We find that another councilor, Robert Liberty, was the chief person behind the tax concept. Mostly False.
House Democrats on Steve Newgard: Democrats claimed in a TV ad that the Republican challenging Brent Barton in House District 40 "owed more than $13,000 for unpaid taxes on his $1 million Milwaukie apartment complex." We find his complex was far more modest, and Democrats changed their ad. Mostly False.
Democratic Party of Oregon on Matt Wand: State Democrats said the Troutdale Republican in House District 49 sided with activists "to restrict access to reproductive health care services." We find he put his name on a bill that would have regulated abortion clinics, but that Democrats’ description of him was missing context. Half True.
Taxpayer Association of Oregon on Mark Hass: The tax watchdog group said the Democratic state senator from Beaverton – and others – increased taxes by $1 billion in a single day. The missing context is that voters approved two of the measures cited. Half True.
Measure 26-146: Backers of a Portland arts tax said the money would provide "funding for certified arts and music teachers for every elementary school serving Portland residents." We find the pitch leaves out an important detail: That some districts would have to kick in money to ensure that each school has a full-time art or music teacher. Half True.
Measure 26-144: Supporters of a $482 million bond campaign for Portland Public Schools said the cost to rebuild high schools will be $220 per square foot, if you stick to hard construction costs. We find the total cost ranges between $310 and $355 a square foot, making this a statement that’s missing important information. Half True.
Measure 26-143: Backers of a Multnomah County library levy said "the typical homeowner will pay $4 more per month" if the measure is approved. True.
Measure 26-143: Multnomah County library backers also say county branches are open only 44 hours a week — "the lowest of any library in the four-county region." True.
Measure 79: The group behind a move to ban future taxes on real estate transactions claimed that the city of Portland "made charging this tax one of their top priorities just this year." The city has a longstanding desire to remove state pre-emptions on its ability to tax and regulate within local boundaries. That’s not nearly the same thing as making "charging this tax" a priority. Pants on Fire.
Measure 81: A group opposed to a ballot measure banning gill-net fishing in the Columbia River said the ban "will only apply to Oregon commercial fishermen" and not Washington gill-netters. Do we have to tell you that the river borders both states? Half True.
Measure 81: Original backers of the proposal to ban gillnets said Oregon was only one of three states to allow them in inland waters. False.
Measures 82 and 83: Backers of a proposal to build a private casino in Wood Village claimed the two ballot measures "authorize just one more casino." That is accurate about one of the measures, but the other would change the Oregon Constitution to allow the possibility of more. Half True.
Measures 82 and 83: Casino opponents said the proposed casino "would be the largest casino in the United States." Not even close. Pants on Fire.
Measures 82 and 83: Casino opponents said casino backers had a New York casino deal that "was called ‘rigged’ and ‘corrupt.’¤" We find that what went down in the Big Apple was pretty unsavory. Mostly True.
Measure 84: Backers of a proposal to phase out the estate tax said the reason 29 states no longer have the tax "is that the tax damaged their economic competitiveness." Actually, the other states just didn’t reinstate one when the federal tax went away. False.
See individual rulings.
Names in this article: "Our Portland, Our Schools" , Creative Advocacy Network, Kate Brown, Future PAC (Oregon House Democrats), Carl Hosticka, It's Still a Bad Idea, Laurie Monnes Anderson, Oregon Senate Republicans (The Leadership Fund) , Julie Parrish, Promote Oregon Leadership PAC (Oregon House Republicans), Yes on 79 , Yes on 82 and 83 campaign, Yes on 84
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